Welcome to a new feature that I am going to try out for a bit to see how it goes. I am going to pick up a sampler pack of beers from a single brewery and go through it one at a time, leaving my thoughts here for you all to read in order to help you become more informed and responsible beer drinkers. Or, I’m just going to gush of the beers I like and rag on the ones I hate and tell you if a pack is worth picking up or if you should avoid it. Most samplers have 12 beers in them 3 each of 4 different styles, so I am going to have to say that for a sampler to be worth picking up, 3 of those 4 beers had better be pretty good. So let’s begin with what I am going to call, “Stuck in the Middle with Brew.”
Today I have the Folly pack from New Belgium brewery. New Belgium has been around for a while, but they have onlly recently started to distribute in Michigan. And when they did, it was hard to swing a dead cat without hitting someone singing the praises of Fat Tire and how wonderful it is that we can finally get this wonderful beer that had for so long been something that required a trip out of state. So this may be my first time putting down on record what I think about the beers that have come out of this big little brewery from Colorado. The Folly comes with their Blue Paddle Pilsner, Snapshot Wheat beer, Ranger IPA, and Fat Tire Amber.
To be honest, this tastes like a pale imitation of a cheap beer. For being an “Exclusive Folly Featured Can” I am pretty disappointed. It is hard for me to get excited for a pilsener but it really feels like this one was totally phoned in. The aroma is unremarkable, and the taste really seems to lean a little too much on the sour side, and not the good kind of sour either. This beer is actually kind of unpleasant on the back. It tastes like it is trying to be any other light american pils (Coors pops to mind), but just kind of falling flat(er).
New Belgium’s wheat beer feels like perhaps the opposite of their pilsner. If these were living in a comic book world, they would be nemesisis (?). They are similar enough in that they both have a lightness and a crispness to them, and each also have a sour tone. But where the Blue Paddle’s sour flavor is unpleasant, the Snapshot’s sourness is quite satisfying. Where the pilsners flavor is flat and uneventful, the wheat beer’s flavor contains a featured body that holds it’s characteristics well. The Snapshot is one that I could easily find myself enjoying on a cool fall afternoon as well as on a hot summer evening. This one is Bakken Approved.
The IPA that New Belgium brought to my table is their Ranger. The Ranger is a 6.5%, 70 IBU glass of prime solid IPA. This one feels like New Belgium aimed for the middle of the road for IPAs and hit it dead on. It is bitter without being overpowering, and sweet without taking its edge off. That is not to say that it is a boring or uninspired IPA. That would imply that it somehow falls short on any of its taste characteristics. You can have very good IPAs that are very hoppy (like 90 Minute), or very sweet (like Two-Hearted), but this beer I would call very good, by splitting right down the middle. This beer is also, Bakken Approved.
Yawn. honestly this has got to be one of the most overrated beers I have ever had. I mean it isn’t bad (this is no Blue Paddle), it is just, meh. It must be because New Belgium only recently started to distribute in Michigan and everyone was just excited for this new beer that they had heard so much about. That is really the only way I can rationalize all the hype that flooded my facebook feed when Fat Tire came to town. This beer is not that special. Not only is it not special, it is not all that good of an example of an Amber Ale. It is honestly sub-par. Fat Tire is not Bakken Approved.
New Belgium is a brewery that, at least for me, suffers from a major case of over-hype. That is not to say that they don’t make good beers, the Ranger, and the Snapshot are both very good. Unfortunately, Their flagship, Fat Tire, has so much love for such a lacking beer, it taints my gut reaction to the brand. And that in itself is unfortunate, because they are clearly able to make some very tasty beverages. I will try to sample some more that they have to offer, and I’ll let you know what I find. This pack, however, has 2 good beers, 1 boring beer, and 1 straight up bad beer. I cannot recommend picking up this sampler, you are better off getting a six of Ranger and a six of Snapshot.